The Quran

Commentaries for 2.11

Al Baqara (The cow) - البقرة

2.11 Abbas - Tanwîr al-Miqbâs min Tafsîr Ibn ‘Abbâs
(And when it is said unto them), i.e. the Jews (Make not mischief in the land) by preventing people from the Religion of Muhammad (pbuh) (they say: we are reformers only), we are reforming it through obedience.
2.11 Jalal - Al-Jalalayn
When it is said to them, that is, these latter, ‘Do not spread corruption in the land’, through unbelief and hindering [people from] faith, They say, ‘We are only putting things right’, that is, ‘we are not engaging in corruption’. God, exalted be He, refutes them, saying:
2.11 Kashani - Kashani
When it is said to them, 'Do not work corruption on earth', they say, 'We are only putting things right'.
2.11-12 Kathir - Ibn Al Kathir
Meaning of Mischief
In his Tafsir, As-Suddi said that Ibn `Abbas and Ibn Mas`ud commented,
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لاَ تُفْسِدُواْ فِى الأَرْضِ قَالُواْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُونَ
(And when it is said to them: "Do not make mischief on the earth,'' they say: "We are only peacemakers.'') "They are the hypocrites. As for,
لاَ تُفْسِدُواْ فِى الأَرْضِ
("Do not make mischief on the earth''), that is disbelief and acts of disobedience.'' Abu Ja`far said that Ar-Rabi` bin Anas said that Abu Al-`Aliyah said that Allah's statement,
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لاَ تُفْسِدُواْ فِى الأَرْضِ
(And when it is said to them: "Do not make mischief on the earth,''), means, "Do not commit acts of disobedience on the earth. Their mischief is disobeying Allah, because whoever disobeys Allah on the earth, or commands that Allah be disobeyed, he has committed mischief on the earth. Peace on both the earth and in the heavens is ensured (and earned) through obedience (to Allah).'' Ar-Rabi` bin Anas and Qatadah said similarly.
Types of Mischief that the Hypocrites commit
Ibn Jarir said, "The hypocrites commit mischief on earth by disobeying their Lord on it and continuing in the prohibited acts. They also abandon what Allah made obligatory and doubt His religion, even though He does not accept a deed from anyone except with faith in His religion and certainty of its truth. The hypocrites also lie to the believers by saying contrary to the doubt and hesitation their hearts harbor. They give as much aid as they can, against Allah's loyal friends, and support those who deny Allah, His Books and His Messengers. This is how the hypocrites commit mischief on earth, while thinking that they are doing righteous work on earth.''
The statement by Ibn Jarir is true, taking the disbelievers as friends is one of the categories of mischief on the earth. Allah said,
وَالَّذينَ كَفَرُواْ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَآءُ بَعْضٍ إِلاَّ تَفْعَلُوهُ تَكُنْ فِتْنَةٌ فِى الاٌّرْضِ وَفَسَادٌ كَبِيرٌ
(And those who disbelieve are allies of one another, if you do not do this (help each other), there will be turmoil and oppression on the earth, and great mischief.) (8:73), In this way Allah severed the loyalty between the believers and the disbelievers. Similarly, Allah said,
يَـأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ لاَ تَتَّخِذُواْ الْكَـفِرِينَ أَوْلِيَآءَ مِن دُونِ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَتُرِيدُونَ أَن تَجْعَلُواْ للَّهِ عَلَيْكُمْ سُلْطَاناً مُّبِيناً
(O you who believe! Do not take disbelievers as Awliya' (protectors or helpers or friends) instead of believers. Do you wish to offer Allah a manifest proof against yourselves) (4: 144).
Allah then said,
إِنَّ الْمُنَـفِقِينَ فِى الدَّرْكِ الاٌّسْفَلِ مِنَ النَّارِ وَلَن تَجِدَ لَهُمْ نَصِيراً
(Verily, the hyprocrites will be in the lowest depth of the Fire; no helper will you find for them) (4:145).
Since the outward appearance of the hypocrite displays belief, he confuses the true believers. Hence, the deceitful behavior of the hypocrites is an act of mischief, because they deceive the believers by claiming what they do not believe in, and because they give support and loyalty to the disbelievers against the believers.
If the hypocrite remains a disbeliever (rather than pretending to be Muslim), the evil that results from him would be less. Even better, if the hypocrite becomes sincere with Allah and makes the statements that he utters conform to his deeds, he will gain success. Allah said,
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لاَ تُفْسِدُواْ فِى الأَرْضِ قَالُواْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُونَ
(And when it is said to them: "Do not make mischief on the earth,'' they say: "We are only peacemakers.'') meaning, "We seek to be friends with both parties, the believers and the disbelievers, and to have peace with both parties.'' Similarly, Muhammad bin Ishaq reported that Ibn `Abbas said,
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ لاَ تُفْسِدُواْ فِى الأَرْضِ قَالُواْ إِنَّمَا نَحْنُ مُصْلِحُونَ
(And when it is said to them: "Do not make mischief on the earth,'' they say: "We are only peacemakers.'') means, "We seek to make amends between the believers and the People of the Book. '' Allah said,
أَلا إِنَّهُمْ هُمُ الْمُفْسِدُونَ وَلَـكِن لاَّ يَشْعُرُونَ
(Verily, they are the ones who make mischief, but they perceive not.). This Ayah means that the hypocrites' behavior, and their claim that it is for peace, is itself mischief, although in their ignorance, they do not see it to be mischief.
2.8-16 Maududi - Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi - Tafhim al-Qur'an
They deceive themselves by imagining that their duplicity will safeguard their interests but obviously their policy will prove harmful in this world as well as in the next. A hypocrite might succeed in deceiving some people for some time but he cannot deceive all people for all times. When such a person is exposed, he loses all honour once and for all. As to the Hereafter, mere lip-service will carry no weight there because it is deeds alone that matter there.
"A disease": the disease of hypocrisy; and "Allah is increasing their disease all the more" means that He does not punish the hypocrites for their hypocrisy immediately, but gives them respite so that when their duplicity appears to succeed apparently they become more and more convinced of its efficiency and they go on becoming more and more hypocritical in their attitude and conduct.
That is,"Just as the other people of your nation have accepted Islam truly and sincerely, so should you also accept it truly and honestly, if you profess to accept it".
They regarded as tools the people who had accepted Islam sincerely and exposed themselves to troubles, hardships and dangers. In their opinion it was nothing but folly to earn the hostility of the whole country merely for the sake of truth and righteousness. They considered it wisdom not to bother about the right and the wrong at all but to look only after one's own interests.
Shayatin plural of Shaitan, is an insurgent, haughty and devilish person, or an evil genius. This word is used both for the men and the jinn. Though it has mostly been used in the Qur'an for the jinn devils, in some places it has also been applied to human devils, and from the context it can easily be judged where it refers to human and where to jinn devils. Here it refers to the Arab chiefs who were in the fore-front in their opposition to Islam.
2.11-12 Qushairi - Al-Qushairi
When it is said to them “Do not [foment] corruption in the land” they say “We are only putting things right.” Truly they are the agents of corruption but they perceive not. This alludes to the fact that when thoughts of warning came secretly to their hearts calling them to right conduct they followed self-indulgent interpretations rukhaṣ al-taÌwīl and deceived themselves about that which bore witness to the hardness of their hearts. When they denied the proof of the Real in the thoughts that came to their hearts God took the blessing away from their states and in its place gave them a deaf ear to the Real. Their affliction is in their resistance to the path Ṭarīqa and their loss of belief in it. Just as an apostate is a more intense enemy to Muslims so the one who returns from spiritual desire irāda to the world and ordinary customs is the worst of people in rejecting this path and the most distant from its followers. As the proverb goes “Anyone who loses their stored grain to fire wishes the same for others.” According to the sincere among those [on the path] the help of those who have deserted the way of spiritual desire should not be accepted just as the Messenger ﷺ did not accept the almsgiving zakāt of Thaʿlaba. It is said that it is sufficient to expose those who lie by saying to such a person's face “You have lied.” When they said “We are only putting things right” the Real سبحانه showed them to be liars and He said “Truly they are the agents of corruption but they perceive not” meaning “We are aware of them and have exposed them.”